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ALEXANDER  YON   HUMBOLBT.                   41
ranges and forms the shapeless, which chains the
planets to the sun, which gives the living breath of
warmth to the cold mass, which forcibly destroys the
seemingly-complete, which a human being in his nar-
row sphere considers as a gigantic whole, and replaces
it by new forms. WHAT is THIS POWER? How
DOES IT CTiEATEy HOW 33ESTBOY ? These were the
next great questions which forced themselves on
Humboldt's mind, and to whose scientific solution he
determined to devote his life. u What is a day of
creation ?" ho exclaimed. " Did one revolution of
the world round its axis siiffice for it, or is it the
result of a course of millennium ? or did* the conti-
nent rise out of the water, or did the water sink into
the depressions of the earth ? Was it the force of
fire or of water which raised the mountains, levelled
the plains, and placed boundaries to land and sea ?
What are volcanoes ? How did they originate,, and
how do they act T
Teneriffe gave him the first answer. He perceived
tlie truth of what he had already made the principle
of inquiry,—to look upon all specialities only as the
parts of an intimately connected chain of universal
causes and effects, running through all the laborato-
ries of nature, to find herein the cue in the apparent
labyrinth of infinite variety, and therefore not to over-
look the seemingly insignificant with carelessness, but
rather to see the great in tKe little, the whole in the
part Seen in tlxis spirit, the volcano of Teneriffe
was for Humboldt a key to many ^reat mysteries of
universal life ; he perceived the various means which
nature applies to form and destroy, and he thus made
the history of the single one the rule for the history
of the universal. The fire of the volcano which he
ascended on Teneriffe was long since extinguished,
but its traces seemed to Humboldt as the gigantic
letters in explanation of the tremendous element
which once pervaded our earth, which broke through
the earth's crust, which buried men, animals, giants,
and towns, and whichrstill propagates its veins in the